I was incredibly naïve yesterday. Here’s my opening line from what was meant to be my mid-week post:
‘It feels like a long time since I have had a normal blog schedule but having closed out week one we are on our way into the marathon of an eighteen week NFL regular season so let’s if we can establish a routine once more.’
Clearly both the IT and football gods that I don’t believe in as an atheist but like to talk about as a writer because sometimes you just have to anthropomorphise the random fluctuations of probability, chortled to themselves and said to themselves we’ll show him.
So before I get into he picks competition and survivor picks from week two, here’s the games section of my post from yesterday that did get written.
I promise not to do this every week, even though I always watch the Bengals, but that’s where I’m starting as they beat the visiting Vikings 27-24 in overtime. It seemed to take a little while for both teams to get going and the Bengals did their best to give this game away but after getting the game’s only takeaway in overtime rookie kicker Ewan McPherson hit a thirty-four yard field goal with zeros on the clock to seal the victory in a pretty much dream start for a kicker’s career. The Bengals had some high points, Joe Burrow looked good and hit Ja’Marr Chase for a fifty-yard touchdown at the end of the first half as the rookie receiver and LSU teammate of Burrow’s managed to go for one hundred receiving yards in his first NFL regular season start. So much for dropping everything. That said, as good a trio of receiver as Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins look to be, Burrow still took too many hits passing the ball but Joe Mixon ran for one hundred and twenty-nine yards and given the turmoil of recent seasons on the offensive line, I’m inclined to see how this works out over the coming months even if I’m not convinced yet. The defence also looked better, although I wonder about the run defence again and they were blitzing more as well. One of the Vikings’ comeback touchdowns was scored against a cover-0 blitz and call me overly cautious, but I always want at least one deep safety. Still, this could be the start of positive progress in year three for Zac Taylor, but he’s going to have to win consistently to prove the Bengals are moving in the right direction.
As for the Vikings, it feels like a pre-season of turmoil might have had some impact on the field. Despite looking dangerous multiple times running the ball, Dalvin Cook could only finish with sixty-one yards from his twenty carries and it was Kirk Cousins who provided much of the impetus for the offence, even if things did start slowly. It does still seem to be the case that whilst Cousins is clearly a good quarterback, he struggles to elevate at critical moments in the game and whilst you can certainly win with a quarterback like that, a lot has to be right around them for an offence to succeed and things will have to come together for this team if the Vikings want to get back to the playoffs.
Moving on to the second game that I watched from Sunday, the Washington Football Team hosted the LA Chargers and the Football Team put up what was a pretty valiant effort after Ryan Fitzpatrick was lost early in the game suffering a dislocated hip, but ultimately lost the 16 – 20. The LA Chargers looked good on both sides of the ball, which was impressive as the Washington pass rush looked good and I like the look of Football Team’s defence again this season, but it was always going to be hard for Washington to truly compete once Taylor Heinicke took control of the offence in replacement of Fitzpatrick. Not that Heinicke played badly, but his one hundred and twenty-two yards from eleven completions simply couldn’t compete with Justin Herbert’s three-hundred-yard game as the Charger’s second year quarterback looked every bit a player building on his offensive rookie of the year performance from 2020. There was in fact, a lot to like about the Chargers under rookie head coach Brandon Staley and whilst it’s early in his tenure, and the hype might be overdone, there’s genuine promise there. As for Washington, you trust Ron Rivera to keep them competitive, even under difficult circumstances but a lot will depend on how Heinicke responds to being made starter again, having paused his degree to sign and start the Football Team’s playoff game last season he has another opportunity to further cement a place in the league. Heinicke has at least had a pre-season this year, but it’s a quick turnaround to week two as Washington head to New York to fact the Giants tonight.
The final game I watched from Sunday was interesting rather than enthralling as the Chicago Bears confirmed the reasons why Andy Dalton is starting, given their offensive line problems and how quickly Dalton was getting the ball out. Though the Bears didn’t look terrible, the LA Rams looked formidable as they ran out 34 – 14 in front of fans in their new stadium for the first time. The Rams were not messing about on offence either, three plays into the season and out comes the Stafford deep ball for a sixty-seven yard touchdown to Van Jefferson. The Bears did manage to pull within five before half time, but early in second half another deep pass, this time a fifty-six yard play where Cooper Kupp got behind the defence and had empty turf between him and the end zone. There had been plenty of positive noises coming from the Rams about the addition of Stafford and this was clearly a positive start. The lopsided nature of the roster has to be a concern as an injury to one of their mega stars could be a real problem, but that is clearly a bet they are willing to make. For the Bears, as I wrote I do see why they have begun the season with Dalton and I’ve heard enough people I respect say that rookie Justin Fields has talent but not ready yet, but it’s only a mater of time before he gets the opportunity to start, particularly if the Bears keep losing. Maybe we will have a clearer idea after Dalton returns to Cincinnati to face the team who drafted him.
Now with that out the way, let’s turn our attention to the picks competition where I got out to a winning start with a positive score of 10 points in week one taking an early three point lead, but we’re barely past the start line so it’s pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things so let’s get to Competition Thursday proper.
|Gee:||Week 1: 10 – 6||Overall: 10 – 6|
|Dan:||Week 1: 7 – 9||Overall: 7 – 9|
Giants @ Washington (-3.5)
The Giants got off to a rough start and early short week to a division rival is not an easy follow up. It might help that Washington are starting their backup quarterback as mentioned earlier, but these two teams are right next to each other in the DVOA rankings with with nearly inverse offence and defence rankings. I’m concerned about the direction the Giants have been travelling for the last few years, and whilst I saw some positives in what Joe Judge did last season in his first year as head coach, it’s always hard when you don’t have a quarterback and time is running out for Daniel Jones to prove himself the man. I’m always hoping for success for players, just not wins over the Bengals, but in this case I think that Washington are likely to eek out a win. However, this line is too rich for me given the circumstances and whilst I could be wrong, I’m not confident enough to lay this number of points.
Gee’s Pick: Giants
Dan’s Pick: Giants
The Lions had a go at making me nervous, but the 49ers held on to get me a point to start our survivor competition, whilst Dan’s plan to pick against the Texans’ backfired and if this was a standard pool he’d be eliminated already. That would make for a pretty poor blog competition though, so I take the point and we roll into week two.
This week Dan promised me this isn’t a jinx as he’s gone for the Bengals in Chicago taking on the Bears, whilst I’m echoing his pick from week one but hoping the Browns go better as they look to recover from a tough opening game in Kansas City that they really could have won if Patrick Mahomes wasn’t so good.
Week 2 Selection:
Gee: Browns v Texans
Dan: Bengals @ Bears
Bold Prediction of the Week
I’m never that confident in these, but Dan likes to put me under pressure and this week I plumped for:
The Falcons will cover against the Buccaneers this week.
So let’s see if they can finish the game within twelve I win, and feel if not proud than not totally ridiculous.
Roll on week two!